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Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

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Brisbane, Australia
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Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

OK. This is not really a question.

I am posting my negative experience to assure foreign visitors to Australia who might have similar encounters that we are not all ignorant, lazy and onoxious.

Here is what happened to me.

A friend and myself arrived at Sydney airport. We wanted to go to a suburb called Five Dock. We decided to go by train and bus.

The clerk at the airport railway station was on the phone and graciously interrupted his call to find out what we wanted, barely looking at us and resuming his call immediately.

Once at Central, my friend knew where to get the bus and when we arrived at the bus stop, we saw that the convience store there sold tickets. I went in and asked for a ticket for Five Dock. The shop assistant sold me a My Bus Zone 1 ticket.

Sydney has only just adopted a new ticketing system and my friend had an unused bus ticket from his previous visit (which he had bought to go to Five Dock, but did not end up using).

He asked the shop assistant if his old ticket was still valid. After a minute referring to some papers, the shop assistant said it wasn't valid and he offered him a My Bus Zone 3 ticket.

At this point I interjected and asked why he had sold me a My Bus 1 ticket if 3 was the right one.

The shop assistant haughtily replied that the purchaser was supposed to ask for the appropriate ticket and how was he supposed to know what zone our destination was in?

In response, I managed to convey that I felt extremely dissatisfied with his customer service skills and suggested that as he was incompetent in his job he might consider doing something else.

I decided to exchange my My Bus 1 ticket for a 3 and my friend decided to chance it with the old ticket.

When the bus arrived, my friend validated his ticket without any problems. I showed my ticket to the driver and asked if it was the right one for Five Dock. His unexpected and ungracious response was, "I don't know, just stick it in the machine."

All in all, these were three extremely unsatisfactory encounters.

It occurred to me that if I was a foreigner visiting Sydney for the first time, I would probably be thinking, "The sooner I get out of this country, the better."

I know many Sydney people and they are generous, kind and friendly. It is a pity their public transport system doesn't reflect that.

Well, I would just like to reassure foreign visitors that we are not all like what I experienced and if it happens to you, please try to ignore it. Australia is a lot more than some rude public transport functionnaries.

Edited: 25 April 2010, 22:15
Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

There is no excuse for that kind of behaviour from people working in the Transport area. My experience during the change over to MyZone was that most transport staff had no idea what was going on. We asked for info at our local station, and got handed a brochure that was obviously aimed at commuters. Rail/bus connections are most fraught as no rail staff know the bus workings.

As I am only a casual user of our transport network often going to different destinations, using train/bus I've found the only solution is to do a trip plan on www.131500.com.au and even there finding how many "sections" tickets you need is impossible.

This current hopeless government has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on transport ticketing and expansion plans that never got off the ground. One of the main stumbling blocks was the lack of integration in fare structure. Another is conflict between various transport bureaucracies resulting in there being no rationalisation of fares. Myzone has reduced the number of zones for train commuters finally but the bus system is still pretty incomprehensible for the casual user.

Lastly I ask this of any user of our transport network. If you get really crappy service and you have the time and inclination, don't complain to the staff member or even the organisation they are from be it rail, bus or ferry. Just note the details and email the NSW Premier, see this link for a template http://www.premier.nsw.gov.au/contact and also the current Minister for Transport http://www.premier.nsw.gov.au/david-campbell and let them know in no uncertain terms what you think.

Cheerz Wabster.

South Pole
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2. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

"All in all, these were three extremely unsatisfactory encounters"

just part of daily life in sydney....and not only with transport personnel.

get over it.

Sydney, Australia
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3. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

On the other hand, yesterday I took the Rivercat ferry from Meadowbank to Circular Quay. The crew member selling tickets was cheerful and polite, and spent much time explaining the new tickets and working out the cheapest way for families to do their planned trips.

Sydney
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4. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

We had a good experience on the Rivercat recently, almost exactly as described by sydneyick, but the buses - a nightmare.

The 131500 website is pretty useless, too, for fare information.

Edited: 26 April 2010, 00:41
Cairns, Australia
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5. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

I am not sure it is a Sydney thing though but more a big city thing. Cities are not natural envirornments for humans to exist.

It is normal for me, one reason why I left Sydney never to return. Higher percentage of unhappy people compared to smaller communtiies.

Sydney, Australia
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6. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

The problem we have here is a number of disgruntled workers - training would be part of the solution. Before this new ticketing system was introduced all transport workers should have undergone training and a form of assessment (an online multiple choice test would have been sufficient and would have revealed those who needed further training..

Are these people ever given customer service training - probably not? Is it still their fault? Yes partially because as with any worker you do expect that they have an interest in their job - a friendly helpful demeanour.

As for the convenience stores - some convenience stores refuse to sell transport tickets altogether as there is little profit margin in it for them. So obviously some will have a very poor attitude as far as providing any customer service. The transport authority may not have provided them with ANY zone information too. It would not surprise me.

It iis pointless to show frustration when dealing with some people - it would have been better to have laughed it off and just said "Well I better exchange this one or I will get kicked off the bus etc etc etc.............

Anyway I think you should write a letter to our transport management and provide details so they can address the issue/complaint.

Sydney
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7. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

Working at STA is not exactly a prestigious occupation... if you want service hire a limousine. Sure, it'd be nice to have bus drivers with 5* customer service - but it's just not gonna happen.

+If you asked for a ticket to Five Dock and got sold the wrong one, you wouldn't be fined by a ticket inspector because it wasn't your fault (in fact you could sue the vendor for selling you something unfit for its intended purpose under the TPA)

Sydney has a huge problem with slow boarding passengers, especially at major hubs like Railway Square... the driver knew there would be no inspectors; that's why he didn't care what ticket you used

Sydney, Australia
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8. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

The problem is institutional, and flows from the top down. When you have a government whose attitude is 'what can I get away with...?', it's hard for its employees to have any kind of different attitude.

However, as you know, the ticketing system is new and you have to forgive some confusion in the initial stages. It's unlikely that public transport employees have undergone extensive training in the new system. You can imagine that shop assistant had most likely been putting up with all sorts of grief from similarly disgruntled and confused passengers, and that from an item they are not obliged to sell, and one that makes them virtually no profit.

Sydney, Australia
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9. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

The staff at my local rail station do a really good job. So perhaps the rail authority should transfer such workers into key areas and provide them with a super cool uniform (that blue King Gee looking stuff has got to go!!).

Austins Ferry
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10. Re: Sydney Public Transport Personnel - how impolite?

I love Sydney transport, every where I have ever wanted to go has been easy to get to and have never had a problem with late ferries/trains or buses. Apart from major events I think you Guys have the best transport system in Australia for tourists. BUT the staff in informations booths and selling tickets have never been helpful(except one lady ay Circular Quay on our last trip earlier this year) On our last trip I printed off a folder of maps and info from the transport website for every where we had planned on going, because staff had been so rude on other holidays. I forgot which coloured ticket(red or green weekly ticket) we needed on the day we arrived and had to ask at Circular Quay and the man was so rude my normal placid husband even told him where to go